The fight for the virus narrative


Via Sinocism:

China agrees to invite WHO expert after second COVID-19 test – CGTN

The British expert was among two WHO team members who did not board a flight to China after they tested positive for IgM antibodies in Singapore on Thursday.

U.S. and China clash at WHO over scientific mission in Wuhan | Reuters

The United States called on China on Monday to allow an expert team from the World Health Organization (WHO) to interview “care givers, former patients and lab workers” in the central city of Wuhan, drawing a rebuke from Beijing…

The United States, which has accused China of hiding the extent of its initial outbreak, has called for a “transparent” WHO-led investigation and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts have done the first phase of research.

Epidemiological survey of travel history of Wuhan’s first cases can help WHO with virus origin-tracing: expert – Global Times

As the World Health Organization (WHO) expert team has arrived in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, where the first COVID-19 outbreak was reported in China, a Chinese expert suggested that to aid the WHO’s investigation into the origin of the virus, there should be a comprehensive epidemiological survey into first 10 or 20 patients in Wuhan, to find whether they were locally infected or have any links to overseas travel or to foreigners who came to Wuhan for the Military World Games in October 2019…

Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, suggested that the epidemiological investigation into the first 10 or 20 cases in Wuhan could help figure out how the virus was transmitted and even where it came from.

For example, the epidemiological investigation can show whether these people traveled overseas. If so, it may be possible that they were infected while overseas and an investigation into where they went on their travels should be followed up, Yang told the Global Times on Sunday.

Also, as conjecture about US military personnel who went to Wuhan for the Military World Games bringing COVID-19 to China has made the rounds worldwide, investigating if the first cases in Wuhan had contact with the US military delegation is necessary, Yang said.

Comment: Again with the Military World Games suggestion. Zhao Lijian is not a wolf warrior, he is a cadre toeing the Party line, just like Yang Zhanqiu.

Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – United States Department of State

The U.S. government does not know exactly where, when, or how the COVID-19 virus—known as SARS-CoV-2—was transmitted initially to humans. We have not determined whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic. Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection. Scientists in China have researched animal-derived coronaviruses under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure.

Comment: someone familiar with this process told me it was cleared across the US government, was not just a Pompeo effort. It will be interesting to see if/how the Biden Administration follows up on these allegations. But if this is the best intel the US has, after a year of trying to link the outbreak to the lab in Wuhan, it is not convincing enough.

Ensuring a Transparent, Thorough Investigation of COVID-19’s Origin – United States Department of State

In particular, we urge the WHO to press the government of China to address the following:

Illnesses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV): The United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses. This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses…

WIV Research on “RaTG13” and “gain of function”: Starting in at least 2016, WIV researchers studied RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar). Since the outbreak, the WIV has not been transparent nor consistent about its work with RaTG13 or other similar viruses, including possible “gain of function” experiments to enhance transmissibility or lethality.

Secret WIV Links to Military Research: Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.

Coronavirus found in late 2019 in Brazil – World – China Daily

The health department of the state of Espirito Santo in southeastern Brazil announced the presence of IgG antibodies, specific for SARS-CoV-2, in serum samples dating back to December 2019.

The antibodies were detected in 210 people. Sixteen of the samples suggested the presence of the virus in the state before Brazil announced the first officially confirmed case on Feb 26, 2020. One of the cases was collected on Dec 18, 2019.

Comment: China Daily might want to be careful with the attempts cast doubt on the origin of the virus by suggesting it was in Brazil in late 2019. As a subscriber noted on Twitter, Xi visited Brazil in November 2019 with a large delegation, as Xinhua reported – China ready to achieve common prosperity with Brazil: Xi. If the propaganda organs really want to keep going down this road I would not be surprised to see the Brazilians start suggesting someone in Xi’s entourage brought it to Brazil:

Joe Moschella @joemosch

@niubi They’re starting to trip over themselves with the disinfo. I think they forgot Xi was in Brazil the month prior on this one.

China Daily Africa @CDAfricaNews

#Coronavirus found in late 2019 in Brazil COVID-19 was probably in Brazil as early as December 2019 as a Brazilian state confirmed on Tuesday that antibodies to the coronavirus were found in serum samples collected there.

January 17th 2021

6 Retweets14 Likes

3. Vaccine narrative struggle

With the doubts surrounding the efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine it looks like the propaganda organs are trying to cast doubt on the efficacy of the vaccines developed in the West.

Why were US media silent on Pfizer vaccine deaths?: Global Times editorial – Global Times

If there needs to be some comparison, then China’s inactivated vaccine definitely has more solid foundation in safety than Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine. The inactivated vaccine technology has been very mature and has undergone decades of clinical testing. But it is the first time that the mRNA technology was applied to the vaccine. This large-scale promotion of Pfizer’s vaccine is a continuous process of large-scale testing on human beings.

We believe the US and some Western countries do not have better choices now. Mass vaccination of Pfizer is a must. Even if there are risks, these countries would rather bear them. As long as they can save the lives of most people, they would accept the pros and cons. Western mainstream media turned a blind eye to the death of the 23 people, which can be regarded as a part of their acceptance of the “big picture.”

Sinovac Steps Up Defense of Shot After Confusing Data – Bloomberg

China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. defended the efficacy of its Covid-19 shot, saying the vaccine that’s being rolled out from Indonesia to Brazil despite inconsistent data readouts is more effective in preventing the disease if the two-dose regime is administered over a longer time frame.

Correcting misleading information by Western media on Chinese vaccines responsible measure in global pandemic fight – Global Times – Hu Xijin

The Global Times yesterday criticized major US and UK media outlets for downplaying the deaths of 23 elderly Norwegian people after receiving a Pfizer vaccine, while hyping up any unfavorable information about Chinese vaccines. After the editorial went online, some “public intellectuals” in China became very angry, attacking the Global Times and me for being “anti-science.” They said that I’m praising Chinese vaccines in a nationalistic manner and disparaging Pfizer vaccines. They also stressed the importance of building Chinese people’s trust in Pfizer vaccines…

Yet who has started the public opinion war on vaccines in the first place? Obviously, it is the opinion think tanks of the US and its key allies. They attacked the development of China’s vaccine as “opaque” and “data-incomplete” from the start and highlighted unconfirmed cases of suspected side effects from Chinese vaccines…

Fair reporting of allergic events and side effects from both Chinese vaccines and Pfizer’s vaccines is of great significance. The biased reports by Western media outlets have made the Chinese vaccine like a boat sailing against the current in the international public opinion arena. It is not only unfair, but also harmful to the global fight against the pandemic. The Global Times has the obligation to correct the environment of public opinion created by misinformation from Western media and do our part to promote the fairness of public perceptions regarding different vaccines.

Chinese health experts call to suspend Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine for elderly after Norwegian deaths – Global Times

Chinese health experts called on Norway and other countries to suspend the use of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines produced by companies such as Pfizer, especially among elderly people, due to the vaccines’ safety uncertainties following the deaths of 23 elderly Norwegian people who received the vaccine.

The new mRNA vaccine was developed in haste and had never been used on a large scale for the prevention of infectious disease, and its safety had not been confirmed for large-scale use in humans, a Chinese immunologist said.

The death incidents in Norway also proved that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines’ efficacy was not as good as expected, experts said.

China secures shots for global buyers with stable supply as EU faces Pfizer delays – Global Times

As some EU countries struggle with the stagnated rollout of COVID-19 vaccines because of delayed shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, more countries holding Chinese-developed vaccines ramp up mass inoculations given China’s a stable and orderly supply of shots.

Chinese vaccines, with its stable manufacturing capability and easier transportation, secured doses for global buyers and fulfilled the Chinese government’s pledge of “making vaccine a public good,” said observers, stressing that Chinese-developed vaccines are increasingly a popular choice for many who scramble for life-saving resources from “vaccine nationalist” countries hoarding enough doses to vaccinate entire populations several times.

The propagandists seem to be going against Xi’s promises – Chinese president on global vaccine cooperation – Xinhua

From promising to make its vaccines a global public good to joining the COVAX facility backed by the World Health Organization, China has been active in promoting global vaccine cooperation advocated by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

About the author
David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal. He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.